Sunday, October 24, 2004

Gazette opinion: Bush hasn't earned 2nd term in office -

Gazette opinion: Bush hasn't earned 2nd term in office -

The Billings Gazette came out in favor of John Kerry over baby bush today. That's apparently the newspaper's official endorsement. I think it's a good idea but I have to be a little cynical about it. With the poll showing that Montana is a safe state for Bush, it won't do any good but it does give the Gazette a chance to say it is non-partisan. It would have been more effective if the paper had chosen Brian Schweitzer for governor over Bob Brown. Brown will just be another empty figure in the state's high office who will not do anything except ride out the storm.

The Gazette also blew it when they endorsed Rehberg for the House again. Granted he's a Billings native, but he always votes with baby bush and the party and never seems to think much of any Montanans but those on the far right which is where he stands most of the time. In one of the last votes of this Congress before the election recess he voted against having an independent investigator look at allegations against Tom DeLay. Texans use the power the voters give them in the most ham-handed way, no matter which party (I go back to Lyndon), and expect to get away with it. And Republicans all across the country will let their people get away with going against the Constitution. Nixon did it, Reagan did it, Bush I did it and now Bush II. Nixon and Bush II deserved and deserve to be impeached and convicted of crimes against the Constitution. But for Republicans, morality seems to begin and end in the bedroom. It doesn't seem to exist in the living room and kitchens when abuse or domination are in play.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

We're not dumb after all

Friday, October 15, 2004

No science in the bush administration

Skeptics Society--eSkeptic

A pretty complete roundup of the current administration's anti-science activities, from eliminating facts on government websites to firing scientists for disagreeing with political activities. Seems as if someone doesn't want proof, just agreement. Just like Iraq.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Kyoto in effect and a president who shuns church

The Oct. 15 issue of "The Week" arrived today with some interesting items. If you aren't familiar with it, The Week is a short version of news magazines that carries briefs from many other news sources. This week there were three items of special interest.

1. Amy Sullivan wrote in the New Republic that, although George Bush "is a religious man", he doesn't got to church. "That's right," she wrote in the column briefed in the magazine, "The most overtly religious president in modern times does not spend his Sunday mornings in anyone's pew. Bush doesn't even belong to a congregation." She points out that Billy Carter and Bill Clinton were regular attendees. My addition: Maybe baby bush can't take the chance of anyone denying that he's God or that God speaks through him?

2. An overlooked bit of news in this country was brought to my attention again. Russia has agreed to sign the Kyoto treaty which will put it in effect for must countries except the U.S. Our president couldn't talk Putin out of it. That means there will be a lot of selling and swapping of emission rights in the world that will leave the U.S. out. Then when our pollution swarms into Canada or Mexico they can swear at us. In fairness, an Australian columnist said that it won't make any difference, that it's too late to do any good.

3. And, finally, in connection with the post I had a few weeks ago about seceding from the U.S., Patt Morrison suggested in the Los Angeles Times that California should opt itself out of the union since it still has its weapons ban, its emissions rules, and its higher minimum wage in place and would immediately become the fifth largest independent economy in the world. "As American becomes more and more conservative, California has less and less in common with the rest of the country," he wrote. A good idea gathers no moss.

Monday, October 11, 2004

U.S. troop levels may drop -

U.S. troop levels may drop -

Can you believe it? Such good news, just weeks before the election. Wonder what happens on Nov. 3? We now have, I understand, more National Guard soldiers in Iraq than we had in Vietnam.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

All about allergies - Creators Syndicate

And for years people laughed when I said that I couldn't drink wine or decaffeinated coffee because they made me sick. A doctor once told me that the chemical residue left by the process for decaffeinating coffee were so small they weren't supposed to be noticeable (he said the companies said no residue was left), but he said that he had seen a lot of other people who reacted to those aldehydes just as I did. The tipoff is if it's both wine, particularly red wine, and decaf.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

No one knows the time and temperature

There is a saying, credited I understand to the Chinese adage makers, that says if a man has one watch he knows what time it is; if he has more than one, he has no idea of the time. Well, today, I saw triple proof that the rule is true of time and also affects temperature.

Out along Central Avenue in Billings, we have three banks in about three blocks, set off by a Mickey Ds, another fast food joint or two, a gas station, a grocery store, and a dead restaurant. How long does it take to go three blocks at 35 miles per hour? I'm not sure, but each of those banks had a time and temperature sign.

The first sign read 3:45 and 78 degrees, from that we knew the time and temperature and both seemed reasonable, although we thought it might have been cooler than that. The next bank, a block away, posted 3:55 and 84 degrees. That really did seem rather warmer than it actually was. A block farther down the road and the third bank posted 3:45 and 125 degrees. We were sure that the reading was far too high for the cloudy fall day. And we didn't think it had taken four minutes to go a half block or so.

Some adages do seem to be more trustworthy than others.

The Sanctions: Report Cites U.S. Profits in Sale of Iraqi Oil Under Hussein

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Is this a contribution?

Do you suppose that Gubernatorial candidate Bob Brown will hear from anybody else about posting his name in big black letters on the front of the 2004 Voter Information Pamphlet? Seems as though he was severely criticized for his television promoting of the voting laws, etc., just a little while ago. More importantly, will anyone connect the Secretary of State with the election race? Or am I just kidding myself?

And the pamphlet itself contains some interesting information about the issues. If you haven't made up your mind about them, be sure to read what it says. Particularly the actual content as well as the ballot wording. It's informative.

Oh, and you have to bronx cheer the Republican Party for managing to get a political barb into what's supposed to be strictly a voter information booklet. They manage to dis the Democrats in two paragraphs of what their party stands for and the state's environmentalists in the third. They do take credit for our poor economic standing (that's my interpretation of what the state is like after 12 years of them in power although they put a different spin on it). And they really want the religious to take over the state as "we urge stronger support of ... faith-based organizations." I can't think of anything worse that could happen to Montana. We've always been a bunch of free thinkers and the Republicans, the interlopers in this state, want to turn it over to those who are anti-free thinking.

With a Republican Secretary of State putting his name big on the front and the party taking political pot shots on the inside, I wonder if the Republicans are reporting any donations from the state of Montana?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Defining the political rainbow

It seems to me that this election cycle we are dealing with a rather widespread political spectrum. While the blogosphere and the press are tossing around the words conservative and liberal, I would suggest that we have many more opinions out there than are contained in those words. However, they do seem to be the umbrella words most people use as a convenient shorthand for Republicans (conservative) and Democrats (liberal).

I went on Dictionary.Com the other day and pulled down some definitions of the political spectrum. Here is what I found:

—centrist: one who takes a position in the political center; a moderate. Marked by or adhering to a moderate political view; supporting or pursuing a course of action that is neither liberal nor conservative, middle-of-the-road; a person who takes a position in the political center.
—conservative: favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change; of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism; favoring traditional views and values; a supporter of political conservatism.
—liberal: not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry; favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
—radical: departing markedly from the usual or customary; favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions.
—reactionary: characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative. An opponent of progress or liberalism. Being, causing, or favoring reaction; as, reactionary movements.

I would add one more to this that I see in this election’s spectrum:
radical reactionary: a reactionary who is not opposed to change if that change would create a world which it believes existed but never did.

So where would I place groups of thought on this scale? Going from right to left, I will start with the concept of radical reactionary. Within this group would be most of the religious right. They have constantly redefined the history of this country to make it seem as if the founders did not want to keep religion out of politics. Yet it is that reason that we have the religious clause in the Bill of Rights. The founders did not want religion to play a big role in the political life of the new country. This is a form of reaction that occurs as a form of radicalism. What they want is for the public life in this country to accept their beliefs of what is right. In the long run, they would want a theocracy and are just as dangerous to our way of life as is the fundamentalist Muslim.

Next are the plain reactionaries. They don’t any change. They nestle somewhere between the radical reactionaries and the traditional conservatives. In essence, they don’t want to rock the boat by accepting that stuff happens and has to be dealt with. They would rather ignore the stuff even if they stepped in it.

Then there are the real conservatives, those who favor responsible spending, lower taxes and smaller government. They are a tiny minority with a home in the Republican Party but squeezed between pseudo conservatives who favor spend but not tax and the radical reactionaries. They also tend to be social conservatives who do not favor various programs such as help for the poor, for the elderly, or for the sick. On help for big business they are uncertain, but tend to come down on the side of Charlie Wilson’s “if it’s good for General Motors, it’s good for the country.” Included in here are the Libertarians who seem to desire an impossible utopia in which every human is an island and we have no public education and no welfare programs because they are not needed since every one takes care of him or herself. In my view, George Bush is squeezed between the radical reactionaries and the pseudo-conservatives, advocating what the religious right desires, while piling up a major deficit and adding billions to the national debt.

As a subcategory of conservatives, or at least a group that styles itself as conservative are the hawks, also known in some areas as imperialists. They advocate the U.S. becoming the policeman of the world, defending “freedom” and its self interests wherever and whenever problems arise without regard to the costs. They advocate an American-made peace with preemptive strikes when necessary. They claim their program will make the U.S. citizen safer. They tend to be the people that advise the President on foreign issues.

The moderates don’t seem to have a real good position yet in this election. They (and those who are incapable of choosing until they’re actually in a polling booth staring at the ballot) are the current targets in the off-color states for the two major party candidates. Many of them do not have strong opinions on political matters and tend to sway in the winds because of that. They are more likely to say “what difference does it make” and may not vote. Or, they may be more likely than the others to take a good long look at the issues and how the candidates relate to them before casting their ballots.

Liberals, of which I are one according to most people, are more likely to accommodate or deal with change. They see that the world has changed in the last two centuries and that it is continuing to change. They realize that society has changed beyond recognition in the last 300 years and the world is a vastly different place than it was in 1800. The social fabric has been torn apart and needs rebuilding in a world so different that humans are finding it not a comfortable place to be. They reject the idea that something that has failed before is good enough to replace something that is a better effort to control the process of dealing with change in our lives. They see that charities and traditional ideas of saving and thrift failed during the Depression of the 1930s and something more sustainable was needed to replace them. I also would suggest that most liberals do not need a frontier to challenge them. They can adapt to the challenge in the world as it exists and as it is becoming. (By this definition, I’m not sure John Kerry would entirely qualify as a liberal.)

And finally there are the radicals. They come in different stripes. I would define today’s radicals as the left fringed. They are the Petas and the ALFs, the take-no-prisoners environmentalists, the Gaia and other New Age religionists, the homeopaths, and the others who may or may not vote, but if they do they will make a one-issue choice.

Of course, any effort to categorize anything runs into the fact that almost everything in politics is a spectrum and very seldom do two people agree on all issues. So this is a suggestion of a place to start to sort out the very angry issues that we are dealing with in this election.

And I’ll end it with one comment from a conversation I had from an avowed Libertarian this week: Those on the right in this election seem to be much more rigid than those on the left. The left seems to be much more flexible.

The New York Times > Opinion > How to Save Social Security

The New York Times > Opinion > How to Save Social Security

Now here's a worthwhile position on Social Security for the future.

The New York Times > Opinion > Confronting Tom DeLay

The New York Times > Opinion > Confronting Tom DeLay

I'm posting this from the Times editorial page because I was also surprised that the Ethics Committee criticized DeLay. He seems to be almost as untouchable in politics as Reagan.

Friday, October 01, 2004

MSNBC - How to Think About the Mind

MSNBC - How to Think About the Mind

I keep wondering if I should get Newsweek. This may convince me. It's a very interesting piece on where the soul arises. I have my own ideas, of course, we all do, but mine come close to what this says.

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Is Iran Next?

AlterNet: War on Iraq: Is Iran Next?

This strikes me as possibly anti-semitic in parts, but it is also a good wrapup of the situation we seem to be facing in the mid-east, and not one that's a very happy prospect.

Click Here